The Famous Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace – How it Looks Like?
It was an unbelievably sunny and soft November day in London. It looked like the well known rainy days in gray hues were stories from another life and people all over the Hyde Park were leisurely strolling on the pathways. I and my friend were headed to the other side of the park – Kensington Palace, the place where Princess Diana lived, for the famous afternoon tea at Kensington Gardens and we almost could smell its fragrance from far (at least I believed so with my widely developed imagination).
Kensington Palace is one of the less pompous palaces in London. You can almost pass by without paying attention to it if was not the bold monument of Queen Victoria at front. As compensation to its impersonal look, its location is quite perfect. Well positioned at the edge of the park, the palace and its gardens are one of the popular and favorite places to visit in London.
After a long enjoyable walk (despite the speedy cyclists that reminded me of Amsterdam), we found the gallery where the afternoon tea is served. What a hell?! A queue?! It didn’t occur to me before that this place is no secret for others too. Well, we waited. We were here and we couldn’t leave without trying, seeing and knowing … how it is to have a tea at the palace.
After good fifteen minutes we finally had our table. Well positioned in the middle of the gallery, I could observe the mixture of clients without disturbing their peaceful afternoon. The two Italians in elegant suits were having lunch accompanied by a bottle of a chilled white wine. The two ladies at the table to the left were definitely some of my own tribe – ‘traveling divas’, women in love with the travel and the world. And finally, in the gallery at the end group of at least ten Muslim women were celebrating something. I understand the choice to have their women’s party here, the settings and atmosphere are utterly typical.
And then the tea and the plate of cakes arrived. My whole attention was focused on what was served in beautiful plates and cups in front of my eyes. Start taking pictures (how in another way I can share with you this experience?) and was not the only one. The girls at left did the same. While I enjoyed the tea, the rolls, and the cakes, I was a bit surprised.
To be totally honest, I believe there are much better places for afternoon tea in London nowadays. The setting is beautiful, the waiters polite and the porcelain fine. The tea is good (that’s all – just good) and cakes delicious but not unforgettable as it was the cake genoveze in the village of Erice, Sicily.
I liked the white of the walls, starched tablecloths and shirts of the staff. The light was invading the gallery and noise of all people happily chatting with their companions was pleasant as a murmur of a brook. Regrettably, the greenery was very limited. Just a few corners were delicately decorated with trees in pots. It is called Orangery, where are the flowers?!
We did not meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate Middleton), the current residents of the Palace. And even I’m wondering – how they can live in the middle of all this cacophony around them? Tourists and Londoners are walking literally in their backyard. Well, better to leave the aristocratic lifestyle to their Majesties and to focus on the important question – is it afternoon tea at Kensington Gardens worth the effort?
My verdict is – it is worth trying once if this is of interest for you but you definitely should not be sorry if you can’t make it. As I said, there are probably better places to have authentic British tea experience and when I find one (or more) I surely will share it with you. As a graduated hospitality manager and a person with some experience, I think that the value for money formula here is a bit misbalanced. You don’t get enough value for your money. And the place feels largely touristy. I don’t mean anything bad with that – it is good to be popular and to attract visitors from all over the world. But as with all touristy places, the authenticity is gone. And that’s pity because the place has really great potential.
Afternoon tea (the tea plus the cakes and rolls) for one – around 30 £
Have you had such experience, to be disappointed about a place you wanted very much to visit?
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